Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dog Whisperer

The Dog Whisperer sharing his snacks and his love.

These are old friends no longer with us.
Luke still doesn't like to wear shirts or socks, but dogs never seem to mind.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Biscuit King

Todd was always a very good baker. He made mouth-watering carrot cakes and apple pies, but he was probably most famous among family and friends for his biscuits. When someone would ask how he came to be such a biscuit pro, he would always tell the story of his grandmother and how she would make biscuits every morning. She had a "biscuit bowl" she always used….if I recall correctly, it always had flour in it, and she just added more flour as needed, and Crisco and buttermilk each morning.
He lived with "Bubba" and Grandpa while finishing high school. (He adored her. Everyone did. Her spirit was one of gentleness, love and generosity. ) After he was on his own (we might have even already been married at the time), he asked her about making biscuits and made his first batch. He would tell you they came out like hockey pucks, but he laughed that I ate them anyway (because I was in love ;-) . Well the other night, with my mom and sister visiting, I decided to try making biscuits . Guess what? Those biscuits came out just like hockey pucks, and they ate them anyway because they love me. I guess I need more practice. Luke tells me I will never make them as good as Daddy—"No offense, Momma, but you know Daddy made the best biscuits." That makes my heart smile because both my kids have such fond memories of making biscuits with their dad, and I want them to hold tight to those memories. So I will make them from time to time in salute to Todd, but I will always know who is Biscuit King in our kitchen. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I hear gunshots all the time out here in the country (it's hunting season for something all year around) and although they are far from comforting, they don't bother me.  Today, I was out in the garage hurriedly trying to find something in the car.  My kids had some company that we were transporting after school, and they were all outside playing.  The garage door was closed and the kids were playing with the dogs right outside, throwing the kong (large rubber dog toy).  When the Kong crashed against the garage door it made such a loud thundering sound I thought I would vomit.  It didn't scare me, it just sickened me.  The sound reminded me of a gun firing right next to me.  I know I have heard the sound before, but maybe I have never been in the garage or maybe it just struck at an angle that the quality was different this time.  I don't know.  But I didn't like it one bit. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Very Strange, But Maybe Not

My discount card for the local grocery store is one Todd set up using his work phone number. I can never find my card so when I want to use it, I just rattle off that phone number and the cashier punches it in and wha-la, instant discount. The other day I had the strangest thing happen. I had been in the store not a week earlier and spouted off the phone number as usual, but this day I could not remember it. I tried several numbers but they were all wrong. I finally told the cashier to forget it, I couldn't remember it. I left the store befuddled. I have probably repeated this number to a cashier once a week or so for 6 or 7 years, and within the span of a few days I had totally forgotten it. I never could remember it. I finally realized that it was probably still stored in my phone, and it was. As I read the number, it didn't have the quick feel of remembrance I expected. I had to say the number over several times to myself before it seemed to stick. It didn't particularly bother me, it was just very weird. I decided it must be my psyche's way of saying it is time to release that from my memory.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bursting With Joy

(This is a long and rambling post. )

It has been over two years since Todd died, and I am starting to feel life flow through my veins again. My circumstances are really not much different than they were the day after he died, but I have been given the gift of peaceful living in the present. The last few weeks, I have really been able to receive this gift for the most part. The days or moments when I refuse it, I feel so ugly inside. And the worst thing about feeling ugly inside is that this ugliness has a way of spewing onto others, especially those whom you love most dearly and know you best. I guess precisely because they do love you.

What I had begun to learn before Todd died, and I continue to learn, and will probably always have to study on, is that no other person can satisfy you the way God can. No other person is always going to deliver whatever it is you need (or think you need). No other person can make you "happy," nor can any set of perfect circumstances. In my experience, the circumstances of life never align perfectly like the stars. We fool ourselves a lot of times, though, thinking "what if?"

When Todd was alive, I would pray that Todd, Luke, Caley and I would draw closer to God, because in doing so, we would draw closer to one another. I would actually picture it in my mind…this drawing closer to God pulling us closer to one another as well. Now I believe Todd is actually united with Christ in a particular way that is too much for my brain to wrap around, but I have faith that it is beyond thoughts and words in surprising and marvelous ways. So, I continue to pray that Luke, Caley and I will draw closer to God, and in so doing, we continue to draw closer to Todd.

I don't want to spend my time thinking about the "what if's" –I want to focus on the "what is." The reality is that Todd's physical presence will never be with us again in this lifetime. The reality is that we will love and miss him forever. The reality is that we are strong and want to spend the days we have left on this earth living and singing praises to the One in whom we will all be reunited one day. I know where my strength comes from, and I am sharing that knowledge with my children. Caley, Luke and I are all strong (even when we are weak) because our faith is not in ourselves alone.

This afternoon, we were listening to the soundtrack to the musical "Annie" and Caley stopped the song "It's a Hard-Knock Life" and said "this song is really a sad one, isn't it?" I told her that, yes, it was. That there was truth in those lyrics and that some children do live in circumstances beyond cruel. I don't want to deny the reality of human suffering, and it can't be explained away, but I also don't want to leave them with the misunderstanding that the story ends there. I went on to tell her that although we couldn't know exactly how, that I believe that God's redeeming love was at work in the midst of all that, just like it is with us; and that there are many instances of people who have suffered horrible injustices as children, who grow up to tell their stories of God's redemption of their pain.

Tonight we were watching Eragon, and we had to pause the movie several times to talk about things. Like when Brom dies, and we knew Brom is Eragon's dad, Luke wanted to talk about how that reminded him about Daddy dying. There were tears and some laughter (Luke still thinks he wants to marry me or Caley ;-) , but it was okay, because we are not denying our grief nor letting it control us—when the grief monster shows up, we let him out and then ask him to move on. (We certainly don't try to convince him he doesn't exist!) During the big battle scene at the end of the movie, we were talking about fighting evil and not being afraid. And I was able to tell my children, truthfully, that I am not afraid to fight anything because I know I will either whip the foe or die trying and then I would go home to be with God…so to me it is a win-win situation. I want my kids to know their momma is not afraid of anything that lies ahead of us. I want them to know that I am confident, not in myself, but in the One who loves me enough to never leave me…the same One who will never leave them…the same One who has gathered Todd to Himself.

I am so thankful my kids ask questions and are willing to talk about what's going on inside them. (Even if sometimes all I can do is hug them and answer "I don't know.") I don't want them to be manipulated by unhealthy fear of any kind because I tried to sweep things under the rug or I didn't take the time to recognize their fears…their fears that I may die too, their fears about feeling safe, and so on. The reality is that I will die some day. I don't think it will be any time soon, but I am well aware that anything can happen…and they are too.

We had some family worship time today. Luke wanted to begin our time with the song "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light," and Caley wanted to end our time with "Joyful, Joyful" which concludes its first verse (and the only one we know by heart) with the expectant words "Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, drive the dark of doubt away. Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day." These songs seemed to be perfect bookends for this time together. We held hands in a circle while we sang "Joyful, Joyful," and their sweet voices were singing loudly and my heart was full--bursting with joy.

Two years ago, I could not begin to imagine that I would "burst with joy" ever again.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Restless and Dissatisfied

I actually wrote this post back in September. I occasionally scroll through my "recent documents" list for just such things. I have no idea sometimes why I didn't post. Was I in a hurry? Did I think it wasn't finished? No clue on this one. So here it is.

I am really in a pretty good place right now, but this evening I just feel icky. A little like a worried hypocrite…just a bad combination all the way around. I don't like worrying…so I hate it when I succumb to its pull. It is absolutely, positively, hands-down the worst waste of time…but I do it occasionally any way...just for kicks. Today is one of those days I would have looked at Todd and just said "I need a hug." He would have delivered. Caley said earlier this evening (as she has been doing more lately) "I wish Daddy was here." I usually just say, "I do too."

My daughter confessed to feeling angry inside, and since I was feeling ugly inside too, we (Luke too) threw ourselves on her bed and kicked and screamed (into the mattress) and flailed our arms until we had spent a lot of the pent up energy. We all felt a little better…until Luke wanted to kiss her (he is a huggy/kissy kind of guy, but basically he does this to push her buttons because he knows that SENDS her over the EDGE).

When I feel overwhelmed I notice that I seem to get dissatisfied with everything. I also subconsciously begin trying to figure out the future. Oh, my prayer is for contentment. Not running ahead or lollygagging behind…just alternating between a nice stroll and a brisk walk.

I am feeling overwhelmed because it seems the statue of limitations on my mourning has expired and I am now expected (by whom, I'm not sure) to reenter the rat race where everyone is so busy they are exhausted and unable to enjoy the simple pleasure of being still…of enjoying family and friends. In fact, many feel GUILTY for wanting to enjoy these pleasures….because it seems so, so…unproductive! It actually sickens me how insidious this soul stealing activity/busyness has become…and I am starting to dip my toe back in and make agreements without thinking.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wise Words from (Todd’s) “Mini-me”

I was laying on a chair, staring up at the ceiling, lost in thought. Luke appeared at my side.

"Whatcha thinking about?"


"Why would you think about work when you don't have to work? There's all kinds of things you could think about. God, Daddy, us. Those are just a few examples. You could think about anything."

And he walked off to finish getting ready for bed.